Health Ministry defends transparency in procurement of drug supplies

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By Tracey Khan – Drakes

Director of NAPS, Dr. Shanti Singh (right) and another Ministry official.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Officials from the Ministry of Health have defended claims that the country’s HIV funding hinges on its drug procurement practices.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Leslie Cadogan at a press conference on Tuesday, February 17 dismissed reports that in order for Guyana to tap into the remainder of the fund, it needs to ensure greater transparency in the procurement of medical supplies.

In defense of the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary acknowledged that the Global Fund approved a US$9M grant for Guyana which will last until December 2017 but noted that it does not hinge on transparency.

In his explanation of what occurred, Cadogan said that Global Fund in 2012 transformed its operations with the implementation of a new funding model, which is more strategic about its investments to ensure greater impact occurs along with value for money.

“Globally for all principal recipients of Global Fund are guided by clear benchmarks for transparency that have established. During the process of applying for a country grant, countries are required to satisfy the global fund on issue of transparency and accountability as part of the eligibility criteria for a concept note for which Guyana compiled,” he explained.

He went on to add that “if a country does not pass this first phase a grant is not approved.”

“However, there are no specific recommendation on transparency that Guyana has to comply with for the remainder of the funds to be released as HIV programmes here have always been transparent,” the PS stated.

Meanwhile, Director of NAPS, Dr. Shanti Singh explained that the procurement of Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) for HIV patients is not done by Guyana.

She further noted that NAPS only quantifies the drugs that is needed in the country and has ensured the consistent and uninterrupted supply of ARVs.

“This has also limited the occurrences of risk for stock out and thus the need for emergency procurement. In fact over the last three years, the National HIV programme required an emergency supply of ARVs only once. This was limited to a very small quantity of a single ARV.”

It was Roberto Campos who expressed concerns regarding Government’s transparency in handling funds for HIV.

Campos was quoted as saying the Global Fund is worried about the process of procurement of supplies in general and ARVs drugs in particular. Dr. Campos said there needs to be clear guidelines developed by the government for the procurement and supply of drugs – procurement manual that the Global Fund can be satisfied is followed stringently.

In Guyana, ARVs are provided free of charge for persons who need the treatment. According to NAPS’ 2014 progress report, there were 4,054 persons actively receiving antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2013.